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ISSN 01046632
Printed in Brazil
www.abeq.org.br/bjche
Vol. 24, No. 03, pp. 365  374, July  September, 2007
*To whom correspondence should be addressed
Brazilian Journal
of Chemical
Engineering
A STUDY OF PARTICLE MOTION
IN ROTARY DRYER
M. H. Lisboa, D. S. Vitorino, W. B. Delaiba, J. R. D. Finzer and M. A. S. Barrozo
*
Universidade Federal de Uberlândia, Faculdade de Engenharia Química,
Phone: +(55) (34) 2394189, Fax: +(55) (34) 2394188, Bloco K,
Campus Santa Mônica, CEP 38400902, Uberlândia  MG, Brazil.
Email: masbarrozo@ufu.br
(Received: January 13, 2006 ; Accepted: May 23, 2007)
Abstract  The purpose of this work was to study the performance of a rotary dryer in relation to number of
flights. In this work an equationing was proposed to calculate the area used by the solids in twosegment
flights of with any angle between the segments. From this area, the flight holdup and the length of fall of the
particles were calculated for different angle positions and the results obtained were compared to experimental
values. The results show an increase in dryer efficiency with the increase in number of flights up to a limit
value, for ideal operational conditions. The experimental data on average residence time were compared to
results obtained by calculations using equations proposed in the literature. The equation proposed for
predicting flight holdup and length of fall of particles generated very accurate estimations.
Keywords: Rotary dryer; Flights; Dynamic coefficient of friction.
INTRODUCTION
Rotary dryers are a class of dryer commonly used
in industry to dry particulate solids (Keey, 1972).
They are made of a long cylindrical shell that is
rotated. The shell is usually slightly inclined to the
horizontal to induce solids flow from one end of the
dryer to the other. In direct heat rotary dryers, a hot
gas flowing through the dryer provides the heat
required for vaporization of the water.
To promote gassolid contact, most direct heat
dryers have flights (see Figure 1), placed parallel
along the length of the shell, which lift solids and
make them rain across the dryer section. The
transport of solids through the drum takes place by
the action of the solids cascading from the flights,
each cascade comprising the cycle of lifting on a
flight and falling through the air stream. Thus, good
flight design is essential to promote the gassolid
contact that is required for rapid and homogeneous
drying (Revol et al., 2001).
Schofield and Glikin (1962) derived an equation
to evaluate the dynamic angle of repose (φ) of a
powder as a function of its dynamic coefficient of
friction (µ). If a powder is poured onto a flat surface,
it will form a pile whose angle with the horizontal
plane is called the static angle of repose. This angle
of repose is affected by the powder cohesivity.
Particles within a flight will also display an angle of
repose with a horizontal plane, which will depend on
the angular position of the flight. Since the angle of
repose is affected by the drum rotation speed, it is
called the dynamic angle of repose.
Kelly and O’Donnel (1977) developed a
procedure for measuring the dynamic coefficient of
friction (µ). They also reviewed the equations that
relate the drum loading to the flight loading. Baker
(1988) showed how the dynamic angle of repose
366 M. H. Lisboa, D. S. Vitorino, W. B. Delaiba, J. R. D. Finzer and M. A. S. Barrozo
Brazilian Journal of Chemical Engineering
could be used to calculate the solids holdup of a
flight at any angular position. He developed
equations for different types of flight geometries.
The purpose of this work was to analyze the
influence of the flights on the drying rate and to
evaluate the validation of an equationing proposed
for the prediction of load and length of fall of the
particles for twosegment flights. Another purpose
was to verify the prediction of some equations in the
literature for the residence time of the rotary dryer.
EQUATIONING
Flights
A dryer may incorporate one or more different
types of flights. A sufficient number of flights must
be distributed across the drum in such a way that the
volume of material transported by the flights is
between 10 and 15% of the total material volume
inside the dryer (Perry and Green, 1999). The
number and format of flights influence the amount of
material present in the rotary dryer. Perry and Green
(1999) suggest that the volume occupied by the load
of solids in the rotary dryer should be between 10
and 15% of the total dryer volume.
Figure 2 presents a scheme of the flights with two
segments, indicating the main dimensions and
variables that will be used in the equationing
accomplished in this work.
The flight, presented in Figure 2, can be
characterized by the lengths of segment 1 (l’) and
segment 2 (l), the angle between the two segments
(α
A
) and the circle radius (R
o
) formed by the line
between the edge of the flight (O) and the center of
the rotary drum. Two sets of Cartesian coordinates
are considered. The origin (x,y) of the set is at the
flight lip, the x axis is located along the first segment
and the y axis, perpendicular to the x axis. This set of
coordinates moves as the flight rotates. The origin of
the stationary (X,Y) set is on the drum axis with the
X axis being horizontal (Figure 2).
Figure 1: Solids cascading inside the dryer
Y
X
y
x
Nível do material
W
A
l
l’
θ
φ
O
R 0
α
A
δ
B
Particle Level
Figure 2: Scheme of a twosegment flight
A Study of Particle Motion in Rotary Dryer 367
Brazilian Journal of Chemical Engineering Vol. 24, No. 03, pp. 365  374, July  September, 2007
Schofield and Glikin (1962) linked the dynamic
angle of repose, φ (the angle formed by the level of
material in the flights and the horizontal line, see
Figure 2) to the dynamic friction angle of the
material (µ), the angular position of the flight edge
(θ), the radial position of the flight edge (R
o
) and the
drum rotation speed (ω), using the following
equation:
2
0
2
0
R (cos sen )
g
tan
1 R (sen cos )
g
ω
µ + θ − µ θ
φ =
ω
− θ − µ θ
(1)
In order to calculate the area occupied by the
material in the flights, the coordinates of points A
and B are first calculated (see Figure 2), the angle δ
between the two sets of coordinates is evaluated and
the volume of material is finally obtained.
Equations for the twosegment flights may be
obtained this way:
Segment coordinates: 1 (y
1
= 0) and segment 2
(y
2
= a
2
+ b
2
x); with: a
2
= x
A
tang(α
A
) and b
2
= 
tang(α
A
).
The coordinates of points A and B are given by
Point A: x
A
= l’ and y
A
= 0.
Point B: x
B
= x
A
– lcos(α
A
) and y
B
=
lsen(α
A
).
In the stationary set of coordinates, the position of
point B must satisfy the following equation since it is
located on the wall of the drum of radius R:
2 2 2
B B
X Y R + = (2)
The two sets of coordinates are related by the
following equations:
B 0 B B
0 B B
X X x cos( ) y sen( )
R cos( ) x cos( ) y sen( )
= + δ − δ =
θ + δ − δ
(3)
B 0 B B
0 B B
Y Y y cos( ) x sen( )
R sen( ) y cos( ) x sen( )
= + δ − δ =
θ + δ − δ
(4)
Substituting Eqs. (3) and (4) into Eq. (2), a new
equation is obtained, which can be solved for δ, for
any angular position (θ).
The equation for the powder level line is given by
y x tan( ) x tan( ) = γ = φ − δ (5)
Its intersection with the line tracing the second
segment has the following abscissa:
2
2
2
a
x
tan( ) b
=
γ −
(6)
with
2 2 2 2
y a b x = + (7)
as ordinate.
The intersection of the solids level line with the
drum wall has the following abscissa:
2
w w w w
w
w
B B 4A B
x
2A
± −
= − (8)
with A
w
=1+[tan(α)]
2
,
B
w
=2X
o
[cos(α)–tan(γ)sen(δ)]+2y
o
[tan(γ)cos(δ)+sen(α)]
and B
w
=Ro
2
+R
2
, and its ordinate is given by
w w
y x tan( ) = γ (9)
Three types of powder fills can occur:
The particles reach the dryer wall. This will occur
if
B
B
y
arc tan
x
 
γ >

\ .
, since the section area occupied
by dust is given by
 
2
A B B A B w w B
R
S sen( )
2
1
x y x y x y x y
2
= β − β +
− + −
(10)
with
2 2
B w B W
(x x ) (y y )
2arcsen
2R
(
− + −
(
β =
(
¸ ¸
The particles that do not reach the wall, but reach
the second segment. This will happen
368 M. H. Lisboa, D. S. Vitorino, W. B. Delaiba, J. R. D. Finzer and M. A. S. Barrozo
Brazilian Journal of Chemical Engineering
if
B
B
y
arc tan
x
 
γ <

\ .
,
2 2
2 A 2 A
(x x ) (y y ) l´ − + − <
and
2
y 0 > , since the area of the transversal section
occupied by the material is given by
A 2
1
S x y
2
= (11)
The flights are empty. This will happen if:
2
y 0 < (12)
The ratio between the area occupied by the solids
in the flights (S) and the load of solids in the flights
(h*) may be given by the following equation:
i i s
h *( ) S L θ = ρ (13)
Glikin (1978) proposed the following equation
for calculation of the length of particle fall of the
flight (the length of fall determined here is the
straightline distance of the particles from the edge
of the flight, where the fall begins, to the particle bed
in the lower part of the dryer):
2 2
o o
d
Y R X
Y
cos
+ −
=
α
(14)
where Y
o
= R
0
cos θ and X
o
= R
0
senθ.
The equation just presented was used for
estimation of load variation in the flights with their
angular position (θ) and for calculation of the length
of particle fall. The predictions obtained with these
equations were compared with experimental data
obtained for a rotary dryer operating with fertilizers.
Residence Time
Particle motion in rotary dryers is one of the
greatest challenges in theoretical modeling of dryers
(Sherrit et al., 1993). The complex combination of
particles being lifted in the flights, sliding and
rolling, then falling in spreading cascades through an
air stream, and reentering the bed at the bottom,
possibly with bouncing and rolling, is very difficult
to analyze (Kemp, 2004).
There are four components of particle movement
along the drum: a) gravitational, due to the slope of
the drum; b) drag of the gas on the particles (for
countercurrent flow, this is negative); c) bouncing of
the particles on impact with the bottom of the dryer
and d) rolling of the particles in the bed at the bottom
of the dryer, especially for overloaded dryers. The
last two components are almost impossible to predict
theoretically and are therefore evaluated
experimentally for each type of material (Kemp and
Oakley, 1997).
Numerous equations have been proposed for
residence time in rotary dryers (Kelly and
O´Donnell, 1977). In many of these studies, only
average holdups (H*) and solids feedrate were
considered. The average residence time for the
particles ( τ ) in these cases is given by
H*
W
τ = (15)
The holdup H* is usually determined by suddenly
stopping the drum and subsequently weighing its
contents. W is the solids feedrate. The previous ratio
is for a void axial dispersion.
One of the most frequently used empirical
equations for residence time estimation was
proposed by Friedman and Marshall (1949):
0.9 0.5
R p
0.3344 0.6085G
L
N D Wd
 

τ = ±

α
\ .
(16)
The second term in the Friedman and Marshall
(1949) equation expresses the air drag on the solids.
The negative sign in this equation is used for
concurrent flow and the positive sign is used for
countercurrent flow.
Saeman and Mitchell (1954) were the first to
break away from the empirical approach to
calculating rotary dryer holdups adopted by previous
researchers. They analyzed material transport
through the dryer in terms of incremental transport
rates associated with individual cascade paths to
yield a transportrate distribution function. By
assuming a linear relationship between the horizontal
displacement of the particles due to the air flow and
its velocity, they derived the following equation for
the average residence time:
R
L
f (H*)DN (tan m' v)
τ =
α ±
(17)
A Study of Particle Motion in Rotary Dryer 369
Brazilian Journal of Chemical Engineering Vol. 24, No. 03, pp. 365  374, July  September, 2007
Where f (H*) is a “cascade factor” with values
typically between 2 and π that increase as solids
holdup increases, and m’ is an empirical parameter
(dimensional) for a given material. The positive sign
in Equation (17) indicates the concurrent flow and
the negative sign indicates the countercurrent flow.
Schofield and Glikin (1962) derived the
following residence time equation by considering the
drag exerted by the air flowing countercurrently to
the particles:
0.5
q
t
2
R
r
q
2Y
L
g N
kv
Y (sin )
g
 
 
θ

τ = + 
 
π

\ .
\ . α −
(18)
with
a S
k 1.5f / d = ρ ρ where
12
f
Re
= for Re < 0.2 and
0.687
12(1 0.15Re )
f
Re
+
= for 0.2 < Re > 1000.
Through analysis of a large amount of data found
in the literature on the operation of rotary dryers,
both on a pilot and an industrial scale, Perry and
Green (1999) proposed the following general
correlation for calculation of the average residence
time:
p
0,9
k L
DN tan
τ =
α
(19)
where k
p
is a parameter that depends on the number
and format of the flights.
The predictions of residence time using the
abovementioned equations from the literature under
different operational conditions were compared with
experimental data obtained for a rotary dryer
operating with fertilizers, and the results are
presented in the Results section.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
Materials
The fertilizers (simple superfosfate) used in the
drying experiments were obtained from Fertibras, a
company located in UberabaMG, Brazil. The solids
had a Sauter average diameter of 2.76mm, a density
of 1.1 g/cm³ and a specific heat of 0.245kcal/kg°C.
Experimental Apparatus
In the experimental apparatus, shown in Figure 3,
the air was impelled by a 4HP blower (1) and
passed through a duct with a 0.2 m diameter (3), its
flow was measured with a hot wire anemometer (2)
and it was heated by a set of electrical resistances (4)
coupled to a voltage oscillator (5) and finally it
entered the dryer in countercurrent flow with the
solids (6). The air outlet was opposite to the solids
inlet (7). The solid was feding by a container (8)
with a worm gear in its lower part (9) and was
removed on the side opposite to the solids inlet (10).
The air (dry and wet bulb) and solids temperatures
were measured with copperconstantan thermocouples,
linked to a digital display (11). The dryer cylinder
was 60 cm long with a diameter of 25 cm.
4
5
3
1
2
11
8
9
7
10
6
Figure 3: Scheme of the experimental apparatus
370 M. H. Lisboa, D. S. Vitorino, W. B. Delaiba, J. R. D. Finzer and M. A. S. Barrozo
Brazilian Journal of Chemical Engineering
Experimental Procedure
a) Evaluation of the Number of Flights
To study the influence of flow, rotation and
number of flights over the drying rate, a factorial
design with three variables at two levels was
elaborated (Box et al., 1978). The values of
independent variables were as follow: solids flow
(W), 0.33 and 0.67 kg/min; rotation (N
R
), 2.65 and
5.55 rpm; and number of flights (N), four and seven.
Eight other experiments were also done: four with
two flights and four with no flights, at the levels of
solids flow and rotation mentioned previously.
b) Residence Time Study
To measure the residence time, experiments were
done using tracers. The number of flights for this
study was seven. This number was chosen based on
the results of the dryer performance analysis.
c) Measurement of the Dynamic Friction
Coefficient
In order to measure the characteristic angle (which
is used to calculate the friction coefficient in Eq. 1),
pictures were taken of the inside of the equipment in
operation. For each image obtained, the angular
position of the flight (θ) and the dynamic angle of
repose (φ) were measured using the Global Lab Image
2 software.
d) Measurement of Flight Holdup and Length of
Particle Fall
In order to measure the flight load in each angular
position, the equipment was stopped and the material
was collected from the flight for weighing on an
analytical scale. In order to measure the length of
particle fall for a flight, the dryer cylinder was started
up and shut down many times, in such a way that the
flights would operate in different angular positions.
RESULTS
Evaluation of the Number of Flights
Figure 4 shows the variation in fertilizer drying
rate in relation to number of flights, solids flow and
dryer cylinder rotation.
Analyzing the results in Figure 4, it can be
verified that, for the same feed and rotation
conditions, both residence time and drying rate
increase with number of flights. When rotation is
increased, maintaining the other variables constant,
drying rate also increases and residence time
decreases.
The ideal number of flights must be enough to
carry 10 to 15% of the total volume of product in the
dryer (Baker, 1988). This fact is related to optimum
dryer load. Values below this range result in a waste
of energy and values above this range produce
heterogeneity of the final product. For the dryer with
seven flights, the volume of loaded material
corresponded to 16.0% of the total volume of
material in the dryer. For other numbers of flights,
the loading was lower than the recommended range.
Evaluation of the Residence Time Equations
Figure 5 shows the experimental results on
residence time and the ones calculated using the
following equations: load ratio (Eq. 15), Perry and
Green (Eq. 19) and Friedman and Marshall (Eq. 16).
Figure 6 shows the experimental data and the ones
calculated with the Saeman and Mitchell’s (Eq. 17)
and Schofield and Glikin’s (Eq. 18) equations.
0 2 4 6 8
Number of flights
2.00
2.50
3.00
3.50
4.00
4.50
5.00
D
r
y
i
n
g
R
a
t
e
[
1
0
^
3
m
i
n
^

1
]
2.65 rpm and W=0.33 kg/min
2.65 rpm and W=0.67 kg/min
5.55 rpm and W=0.33 kg/min
5.55 rpm and W=0.67 kg/min
Figure 4: Variation in drying rate with number of flights
A Study of Particle Motion in Rotary Dryer 371
Brazilian Journal of Chemical Engineering Vol. 24, No. 03, pp. 365  374, July  September, 2007
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Experiment number, ()
1.0
2.0
3.0
4.0
5.0
6.0
7.0
8.0
9.0
10.0
11.0
12.0
13.0
14.0
A
v
e
r
a
g
e
r
e
s
i
d
e
n
c
e
t
i
m
e
,
m
i
n
Experimental data
Calculated by the hold up
Perry & Green Eq.
Friedman & Marshall Eq.
Figure 5: Experimental and calculated residence times (Eq. 15, 16 and 19)
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Experiment number, ()
1.0
2.0
3.0
4.0
5.0
6.0
7.0
8.0
9.0
10.0
11.0
12.0
13.0
14.0
A
v
e
r
a
g
e
r
e
i
s
d
e
n
c
e
t
i
m
e
,
m
i
n
Experimental data
Saeman & Mitchell Eq.
Glikin Eq.
Figure 6: Experimental and calculated residence times (Eq. 17 and 18)
It can be observed in the results presented in
Figure 5 that Eq. (15) (load) had a good fit with the
data. However, use of this equation for the project is
not feasible, because it is not related to any process
variable. Perry and Green’s and Friedman and
Marshall’s equations had good fits for experiments 1
to 8. In these experiments, the value of solids flow
was 0.67 kg/min. When the solids flow had been
lowered (experiments 912), the values predicted by
these equations did not represent well the
experimental data. This is explained by the fact that
these equations do not to take into account either the
load effect on the flights or the particle drag by the
air flow.
Figure 6 shows that Saeman and Mitchell’s
equation is in good agreement with the experimental
data. This equation has interesting characteristics for
the project, performance and scaleup of rotary
dryers, since it takes into consideration the load in
the flights and the particle drag.
Dynamic Coefficient of Friction (µ), Holdup and
Length of Fall
Figure 7 contains the results calculated by
experimental measurement and with Eq. (1) for the
simple superfosfate dynamic friction coefficient (µ)
as a function of flight angular position and solid
moisture (0.08 and 0.12 kg of water/kg of dry solids)
and Figure 8 contains the data on the dynamic
friction coefficient (µ) for these two values of solids
moisture.
372 M. H. Lisboa, D. S. Vitorino, W. B. Delaiba, J. R. D. Finzer and M. A. S. Barrozo
Brazilian Journal of Chemical Engineering
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80
Angular position of the flight (θ)
0.80
0.85
0.90
0.95
1.00
1.05
1.10
1.15
1.20
D
y
n
a
m
i
c
f
r
i
c
t
i
o
n
c
o
e
f
f
i
c
i
e
n
t
,
(
µ
)
Moisture 0.12 kg/kg
Moisture 0.08 kg/kg
Figure 7: Dynamic friction coefficient for the simple superfosfate as a function of angular position
0.00 4.00 8.00 12.00 16.00
Solids Moisture (dry base), kg/kg
0.90
0.92
0.94
0.96
0.98
1.00
1.02
1.04
1.06
1.08
1.10
D
y
n
a
m
i
c
f
r
i
c
t
i
o
n
c
o
e
f
f
i
c
i
e
n
t
(
µ
)
Figure 8: Effect of solids moisture on the dynamic friction coefficient
In the results in Figure 7, it can be observed that
the dynamic friction coefficient is independent of the
angular position of the flight. This result is in
agreement with those found in other literature (Revol
et al., 2001). For the results presented in Figure 7,
the dynamic friction coefficient reached a confidence
interval of 95%, between 0.974 and 1.015, with an
average value of 0.994.
The results presented in Figure 8 show that the
dynamic friction coefficient (µ) remained in a
constant range, when the fertilizer moisture was
increased from 0.08 to 0.12 kg of water/kg of dry
solids. Therefore, for this material, an average value
of 0.994 can be used to calculate the flights load and
average length of particle fall, in the moisture range
studied.
Figure 9 contains the comparison between the
holdup measured experimentally for each flight
angular position and the results obtained with the
proposed equationing (Eq. 2 to Eq. 14) for the
prediction of holdup for the twosegment flights.
Figure 10 contains the same for the length of particle
fall for a flight. The results in Figures 9 and 10 show
that the equations for load prediction in the flights
and the length of particle fall generated very precise
estimations. This confirms its potential use for the
prediction of solids cascading inside the rotary
dryer.
A Study of Particle Motion in Rotary Dryer 373
Brazilian Journal of Chemical Engineering Vol. 24, No. 03, pp. 365  374, July  September, 2007
0 25 50 75 100 125 150
Angular position of the tip of the flight (θ), º
0.000
0.100
0.200
0.300
0.400
0.500
0.600
H
o
l
d
u
p
i
n
t
h
e
f
l
i
g
h
t
,
k
g
Experiment
Calculation
Figure 9: Variation in flights solids holdup with angular position of the flight tip
0 20 40 60 80 100 120
Angular position of the flight, (θ), º
0.08
0.12
0.16
0.20
F
a
l
l
l
e
n
g
t
h
(
Y
q
)
,
m
Figure 10: Variation in the average length of particle fall in the flight with angular position.
CONCLUSIONS
The results obtained in this work allow the
following conclusions to be made:
Efficiency of the dryer studied increased with
number of flights up to a limiting value, for the
optimum loading range. For the dryer studied, seven
was the number of flights that showed the best
results, with at least 16.0% of the volume occupied.
The calculations with the Saeman and Mitchell
(1954) equation showed good agreement with the
experimental results on residence time. Since this
equation has a good theoretical fundament, it can be
used for project studies, performance and scaleup of
rotary dryers.
In the experiments, a friction coefficient of 0.994
was obtained for the simple superfosfate. With
calculation of the dynamic friction coefficient,
374 M. H. Lisboa, D. S. Vitorino, W. B. Delaiba, J. R. D. Finzer and M. A. S. Barrozo
Brazilian Journal of Chemical Engineering
important information, such as the flights holdup for
different angular positions and the average length of
cascading particle fall, was obtained on the material
cascading characteristics in the dryer
The proposed equations for prediction of the load
in twosegment flights and the average length of
particle fall generated very precise estimations from
the experimental data. Therefore, these equations
may be used in projects for the prediction of the
solids cascading behavior inside a rotary dryer.
NOMENCLATURE
d
p
average particle diameter, microns
D dryer diameter, m
f dragging factor, considering
one particle
only
f (H*) parameter related to dryer
load,
.
G gas flow, m
3
/min
h* flight material load, kg
H* dryer material load, kg
l length of the second
segment,
M
l’ length of the first
segment,
M
L dryer length, M
N number of flights, 
N
R
rotation speed, rpm
R dryer radium, M
R
0
distance from the edge of
the flight to the dryer
center,
M
S transversal section area,
occupied by the flight
solids,
m
2
v
r
relative gasparticle
velocity,
m/s
W solids flow, kg/min
x abscissa, m
X abscissa in the coordinate
set centered on the drum
axis,
m
y ordinate, m
Y ordinate in the coordinate
set centered on the drum
axis,
m
q
Y
average length of fall, m
α dryer inclination, rad
τ average residence time, min
θ angular position of the
flight edge,
rad
θ
average angle of particle
fall of the flights,
rad
s
ρ particle density, kg/m
3
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